BORING CONDO TO-DO LIST

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I’m not really a house person.  I did help occupy a house for eight years in Duxbury, Massachusetts, when I was still the mother of growing boys and had a (second) husband reasonably good at fixing things that broke.  But apart from that, I’ve spent all of my childhood and most of my adult life in urban apartments, where there are supers you can call when things go wrong.

Bill is the first to admit, with a candid smile, that he’s not handy.  So when we moved into a suburban condominium townhouse here in Princeton, it was reassuring to know the grounds and the leaves and the snow and the gutters would be taken care of by the condominium association.  I could put my mind to more productive and satisfying matters than property maintenance.

Little did I know. Yes, the association takes care of the outside. (And charges extra when the winter weather’s really bad.) But there’s also the inside — the part we ownWhy just in the past month or so, while I’ve been beguiling myself (and hopefully you) with seductive blog posts about times gone by, the present has gone on making its destructive inroads into the status quo.

All the electric plugs in the master bathroom have given up the ghost. That means the comforting little night light now fails to go on at night.  My electric toothbrush has stopped working. After I wash my hair, I have to plug my hand-held hairdryer into a socket by the bed where’s there no mirror and I can’t see what I’m doing.  TO DO:  Call Gold Medal for electrician. After said electrician replaces the electric plug (for $145 plus tax), he is sure to find some other expensive thing to fix while he’s here. He always does.

Bill helped himself up from the “guest” toilet downstairs by grasping a handy towel bar and pulled it out, dislodging some plaster in the process.  Now the “guest” towel hangs by a dowel protruding from a partially open hole in the wall. (Can we invite real guests to do their business in such an unsightly venue?)  TO DO:  Call Don for appointment to make repair estimate. Don is the nice man who helped another nice man take to Cranbury Books many of Bill’s excess books at one time piled up in the garage. On that occasion, Don claimed ability to do all kinds of  construction or repair work in the home and thrust his card at me.  No job too small! (He said.) Any port in a storm. (I say.) What will Don charge, I wonder.

Condo association has just voted that all dryer vents must be cleaned every three years. Copy of paid invoice should be filed with association office by June 1.  (What will they do if I fail to comply? Evict me?)  TO DO:  Call guy recommended by condo association management company, which has negotiated special price of $69 plus tax with this person, based on volume. (There are 52 units for him to work on.)

The winds of March blew out the pilot light in the gas-powered fireplace. This morning, a cold one, I wasted half an hour on my knees (cushioned against the hard floor by throw pillows) — peering into its dusty innards and pushing switches marked “on,” to no avail, although the cats loved the dusty innards and acquired a dusty coating themselves.  TO DO:  Brush cats before they spread dust everywhere. Then call local fireplace guy to get pilot light on again.  The last time he was here (and reproached us for the dust, but who dusts inside a gas-powered fireplace?) — his help and reproach cost $125 plus tax.

The cleaning ladies, a Polish mother and daughter ever-vigilant against moths, saw one fly out of my closet and another out of the upstairs litter box, which is filled with corn-based litter.  With Slavic looks of reproach difficult to withstand, they are strongly urging that next time they come they should empty my closet and scrub it from top to bottom with noxious-smelling substances, after which they will replace my clothes, probably hanging them in the wrong order. For this I will have to pay them extra, and then rearrange everything after they’re gone. No, I am not a total wimp. I did refuse to replace the litter with a non-natural brand. If moths want to feed where my pussycats defecate, so be it. TO DO:  Purchase noxious-smelling substances at hardware store on Tuesday, when there’s a senior citizen discount.

I have agreed to host a new group of would-be meditators on Tuesday afternoons. We live in a no-parking-on-the-street neighborhood. There’s room for only one car behind our two in the driveway. If there were less “stuff” along the sides of our garage, Bill’s car — slightly smaller than mine — would fit. Then there would be room for four carpooled guests in two cars to park behind mine. TO DO:  Call youth who works part-time in hardware store and ask if he would like to make extra money by helping move heavy “stuff” from garage to basement. Neatly.  Discuss with Bill how much to pay him. Discuss with Bill how to make sure he’s neat. (He wasn’t, last time.)

Please notice there’s no “TO DO: Write next amusing TGOB post”  on this list. Now you know why.

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21 thoughts on “BORING CONDO TO-DO LIST

  1. We too live in a town-house in a group of eight. The show is run by whatis called here ‘a body corporate. It is only tolerable if you give up and hand all frustrations to a higher power. The dream of living with like-wise people has as yet to materialise.
    Helvi and I sometimes dream of a community whereby some evenings might be shared in great excitement with people who can talk away from the price of real estate, sporting achievements and or aching joints.
    Of course, some might well think the same of us. Good story and subject Nina.

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    • There is no community I know of that can transform people with nothing in common other than membership in a condo or neighborhood association into like-minded friends. And the difficulty grows as one ages.

      Interesting to me, though, is how many readers have related to this trifle of a post, relative to the much smaller response to the advertising memoir posts, which took much more time for me to assemble and write! It seems most people like to read about what they too have experienced.

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      • Yes, perhaps, but no. I thought the advertising memoir equally or even more interesting but the length and time it took to keep scrolling down and then up again in a rather narrow picture window, meant it was much more challenging and needed more time, fortitude and determination.
        Both stories of silver beds, ex- husband Ed and about condos and gaslights are good and highly entertaining, Nina.

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  2. I am not sure what will happen when my agility up ladders or down to the floors will diminish. So far I am still handy. Both of us can climb upstairs where we have our computers. I can even take two steps at a time which I am keeping up.
    Helvi has been diagnosed with Chronic leukaemia and a strange heart condition which makes us think the party might not last forever. Our Jack Russell still keeps an eye on us and is totally continent. No litter boxes so far for any of us.
    The worst and by far most annoying is the tactics of a single town-house owner who ripped out the part of communal garden and wrecking the landscape unity that this joint had before.
    She refers to herself as Dr this and that . She has a PhD. and seems to think herself as the chairperson. Her daughter drives a clapped out V8 ute without a muffler. Oh, I could go on but communal owned town-houses do have drawbacks.
    I hope your guest WC grip rail gets fixed soon, Nina.

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  3. I can relate…to living in a town house, to not being handy, and to having appliances and a lot of other stuff conk out after 10 years of maintenance-free bliss. My spouse is handy, but he too has aging knees and a few other parts, so sometimes we do have to call in professionals. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. When I was younger, I used to enjoy doing the repairs myself. Now I don’t even try. I don’t have a pilot light for the gas anymore, but when I did, it had to be lit with a match when it went out. Though these problems you mention are familiar to me too, it still seems to me that a condo is a very comfortable living arrangement. Best wishes.

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    • A match will relight the pilot light on the gas stove, but the gas vent beneath the fireplace is another story. I can’t even see the opening to which one would hold a match if not sufficiently risk-averse to try it. (The whole thing could easily explode.) Comfortable? Well, yes — relatively speaking. The stairs are becoming a challenge, though. We’re beginning to talk about moving out and on…. More posts for another time! Best wishes to you too, Shimon.

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  5. Oh Nina, you have my sympathy! I’ve been a house dweller for all but 5 years of my life, and even then (in an old Victorian house divided into 4 apartments), by some process I never did understand, I ended up being reponsible for the ‘general maintenance’. Now I’m back in a house again (with all the typical maintenance issues), but in a private street too. And, guess what, now I’m part of a tiny team of two (me and my friend, there for moral support) who look after the communal land. It seems there’s no escape! Sometimes I wish I were disorganised and helpless instead of being practical and ‘go-to’!

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    • Aha! There gloats a younger person than the author of TGOB, who couldn’t possibly balance on a stepladder without something to hold on to, whose back no longer supports really heavy lifting, and who is much too old to begin learning how electricity flows! Beware: your time will come! As for meditation, now there’s an interesting blog subject…into which I may go further, next time!

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  6. Nina… Re ‘this trifle of a post’… YES…
    this girl loved reading about what I too have experienced…
    & as so aptly expressed by JMPOD: “the banality of life is difficult to escape!”

    Once again… your humour shines through and I found myself in hysterics whilst sharing of your trials with hubby… Saturday evening being our weekly date for ‘storytelling’… 🙂

    All the very best with your To Do List…
    and we pray the electrical headache be minimal.

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    • The electrician has come and gone, and I am nearly $1,000 poorer. On his way to the master bathroom and its relatively inexpensive plug replacement, he swept an expert eye past all our ceilings and declared our smoke detectors are a fire hazard because they are of different vintages and therefore don’t “talk to each other.” (That is, if one goes off in the basement and we are sleeping two floors up in the master bedroom, the detector in the bedroom won’t receive and pass on the message from the basement detector.) Since we are thinking we might sell and move on to a more stair-free residence in the next couple of years, and house inspectors for buyers check that kind of thing out, I caved. Our seven smoke detectors now all speak the same language to each other. We’re next bracing ourselves for the fireplace guy — a new one who won’t scold and will do a “16 point check” as well as turning on the pilot light again. (For more money of course.) All the more reason meditation is necessary!

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  7. Nina… Delighted to see the Pingback! Is this your doing or a WordPress feature?
    As for the electrical bill… it is rarely for what it appears to be, eh? Safety First! Ultimately a wise investment in your property… as well as a boon for the future owner… and that holds true for the gas fireplace… too!
    P.S. Ask for a demo on re-starting the pilot light & then try it yourself under the gas man’s supervision. If doable… of course. I did & saved myself a return call fee of 125 CAD… 🙂

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    • Pingbacks are all WordPress’s doing. I even get them when I link back to one of my own earlier posts! Re: the pilot light — I’ve had the demo. Following the demo produced nothing this time. So it’s likely a bigger problem than that. Well, we shall see what we shall see….

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